We all strive to be healthier at some point of our lives, some on special occasions and others on a daily basis. But if we asked you what a healthy lifestyle is, we would receive a wide variety of answers:
- ‘Only eating and drinking healthy food and beverages on a daily basis’
- ‘Exercising daily’
- ‘Eliminating ‘bad’ foods like sugars and carbohydrates’
- ‘Detoxing regularly’
- ‘Taking multi-vitamins and minerals daily’
What if I tell you it is not one single thing (food/exercise) but a combination of things? In the end it is all about the balance.
Food choices: It is very important to remember that there is no such thing as a ‘super food’ that will resolve all of your problems or prevent diseases on its own. It is all about the balance – if you have a ‘super fruit’ twice a day, but the rest of the food you consume is still processed, your diet is unhealthy. The opposite is also true – if you consume a treat on occasion and the rest of your diet consists out of whole grains, fruit and vegetables, protein and healthy fats – then your diet is healthier.
Healthy eating includes the following things:
- Choosing whole grain options (instead of processed and / or sweetened carbohydrates)
- Including lean or plant protein at every meal
- Aiming for 5-a-day; five portions of fruit and vegetables daily
- Replacing saturated fats with healthy fats
It is important to remember that healthier food choices can consist out of quicker / processed options like tinned or ready prepared foods on occasion, the more the food is in its natural form, the better: tinned tuna is a better option than polony OR NO fish, tinned tomato puree is a healthier option than a packet of instant tomato sauce / soup. Treats, on occasion can also form part of a balanced diet.
Fluids: Including plenty of safe and clean water daily can keep us stay hydrated. Often water is too bland or we crave something with more flavour. Cold drinks, fruit juices and flavoured waters are packed with sugars. Diet cold drinks are a better alternative to regular cold drinks and juices, but water will still be the best option. Here are a few ways to keep water interesting, full of flavour and cold (let’s face it – ice cold water is way better):
- Fruit infuse your water
- Alternate between sparkling and still water
- Dilute fruit juice on occasion; 1/3 juice and 2/3 water
- Freeze lemon, mint and other fruit and vegetables in a water bottle (fill up 2/3 and freeze)
TIP: Frozen water bottles can also be used as a freezer block to keep lunch boxes cold for school or work
Exercise: The current recommendations are 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days a week. There are so many reasons why we need to exercise regularly; it is not just to keep us in shape. Cardio exercise also improves our cardio – respiratory health.
TIP: If you are inactive at the moment, start slow; start by climbing the stairs instead of taking the lift, carrying your shopping bags, instead of pushing a trolley, parking further from the entrance of a shopping mall, walking at a faster pace or doing house chores at a faster pace. All of these activities can help increase your heart rate.
Sleep: Even if you eat well, exercise moderately and drink enough water daily, your sleep (or lack thereof) can cause you feel sick, sluggish or be unhealthy. According to research the ideal amount of sleep per night for toddlers, children, teenagers and adults are:
|AGE GROUP||HOURS OF SLEEP|
|TODDLERS||3 – 5 years||10 – 13 hours|
|CHILDREN||6 – 13 years||9 – 11 hours|
|TEENAGERS||14 – 17 years||8 – 10 hours|
7 – 9 hours
Mind, body and soul: Lastly, even if all of the above is done regularly, but you are not taking care of yourself (your soul or inner being) – then you are still unhealthy. Find hobbies or projects that you like, spend time with loved ones, do exercises that challenge your brain. By doing this you will keep your soul or inner being happy as well.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) “health is not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, but a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being.”